After what was starting to feel like an eternity I actually did something practical towards a new artwork yesterday – and it was wonderful!

Amazing how much joy some glitter, glue and an off-cut can bring!

As a counter point to both my courses this brief moment of hands-on art was a very welcome relief. The distinction between artistic research and artistic practice is alive and confronting me – well, it is at least presenting itself to me. What was yesterday’s activity, research or practice, or both, or neither … whom do I need to define it for?

And ultimately does it matter if it is artistic research or artistic practice?

Are qualifying words such as ‘research’ and ‘practice’ devises for avoiding other thorny subjects such as quality and aesthetics?


The word ‘claim’ continues to occupy my mind. It is such an interesting term, and ‘what is the claim in your work?’ is a very interesting question. The question can also be phrased: what is the significance of your work? Which in turn seems to be a polite way of asking why anyone else should care what you are doing! Articulating an answer to that is probably the key to many things, and I am almost a little embarrassed that I have never asked it of myself before.

My own preconceptions of research (science) and applicability (design) direct me to think about answers that do not ring true in terms of my practice. If I need to find a field beyond, or possibly even within, the fine arts then I need to look elsewhere – I think I need to look to places of ideas, places that are as nuanced as an artistic practice is.

Transubstantiation comes to mind (which is a little daunting!) when I think around mutability – an idea that has some relation to the work I make, nearly making one thing another. I have often referred to art as some kind of faith, I have never thought of it as any kind of science (and nor do I want it to be). So perhaps it is inevitable that bringing together mutability and faith would lead me to think about transubstantiation. I remember learning the word at school and being fascinated by it. Not only is a wonderful word to pronounce, it also sounds so complex, difficult and nonsensical as to be almost unbelievable.

I am wondering if the claim in my work is located in something to do with seeing objects as some kind of belief system, something to do with finding meaning in objects – I mean meaning that is not restricted to their usefulness, something to do with making meaning in objects. Am I searching for the soul of objects?

Saw the ‘Life of Pi’ this week – if a tiger does not have a soul then a cake tin, shirt, length of vhs video tape and abandoned door certainly do not have them either. But perhaps it is interesting to see if I can make them reflect a soul. If that is not a claim then it might well be the aim of the work … Have I (unconsciously) been hoping that traces of soul might somehow have attached themselves to the second-hand materials I use?

The Swedish equivalent of the Job Centre has a special office for artists, actors, musicians, dancers etc. I went there this week to register and get help with finding some paid employment. Next week I go back with evidence of being an artist from the last three years so I am very glad that I produced the Ljusfältet booklet, and that Birgitta invited me to submit the idea for the piece in the first place. It is the perfect complement to the things that I have done in London and, I hope, demonstrates my ability to be an artist here too.

It is an amazing experience to go to the job centre and be taken seriously as a practicing artist. Once I am fully registered I have the opportunity to upload pictures of my work to their ‘Image Bank’ that is used by people (councils, companies etc.) looking to commission and purchase artworks! The look of sheer delight on my face amused the staff and I tried to control how many times I said “fantastic!” as they explained their range of services and advice seminars. Registering with the ‘culture office’ has the benefit that they help you seek work as an artist at the same time as they help you find more regular and easily available paid employment (fully aware that you are really an artist and will drop it as soon as you get project funding or a commission).

Altogether a very different experience from my visit to the job centre on Burdett Road (east London) where the Jobs Advisor, with a completely blank expression, told me that I meant “teacher” when I answered “artist” to her question about my profession.


I am starting to get that ‘itchy’ feeling that I get when it has been too long without getting my hands dirty with the actual making of art. I thought that this week, being half term at my language school, would be an ideal opportunity to be at the studio – which it has been, and it has been very productive however not in the sense that I thought that it might be. What I have produced is space and order, well a good few steps in their direction with a new set of shelves. It is amazing how different the studio feels.

New work needs space to come in to being and the studio, particularly the floor, was so cluttered with boxes of books and materials that it was not an effective working space. It is as if I need space in order to fill it (with new things).

I also spent a great deal of time on an assignment for the course at Konstfack. Each of us was asked to work with another student and make a short presentation about one of six ‘key concepts’ in artistic research. As one response that I received about my presentation of my work was that I failed to make any “claim” for it, I decided that claim would be my subject. It turned out to be an unexpectedly interesting and fruitful topic. Having been out of the academic context for a long time I am no longer used to explaining work in art-school terms and certainly not in artistic research terms. I now think that I have a better understand of the term (though no means exhaustive), but almost more interesting to me was thinking about language – I feel as though I am learning two new languages at the moment; Swedish and 21st century academic language. Thinking (or content) is the easier part, the harder part is being able to use a language appropriately to communicate those thoughts. The things that I got wrong presenting my work ‘through the lens of claim’ today are not dissimilar to things that I often get wrong in Swedish; attempting to translate words rather than meanings, trying too hard, a lack of familiarity with the language making me sound like a foreigner … The more that I use the languages the more integrated they become and the more natural my way of speaking will appear to the natives!

Looking at what artistic research might be, compared to artistic practice, is fascinating and I really do not know if what I do is research or not, nor do know if I want my work to be more research rather than practice (if I accept the distinct between the two has something to do with improving outcomes and testability).

The art fairs already seem to have happened in some distant past rather than just two weeks ago. The stands at Supermarket continue to be a truly eclectic mix that probably quite accurately reflects the diversity of what might constitute an artist-led initiative and demonstrates the breadth of artistic ambition. Participants include ‘membership galleries’, radical collectives, theme based spaces and thrusting young artist/curator projects that could easily turn commercial as their artists become more established. For the most part though, they are groups of artists working together trying to find ways of surviving outside of the market. As the European economic crisis deepens even in Scandinavian countries (obviously not in Norway!) it is becoming apparent that funding art for art’s sake is becoming a tougher and much reduced field, a (sub)text of transferable and applicable skills is almost tangible.

Interestingly Market, the commercial fair, felt less exciting than it has done. A sense of cool despondency pervaded many of the booths. I was delighted that Galleri Andersson Sandström took the opportunity to show Alyson Shotz’ The Shape of Space piece that they had previously shown in their Umea gallery (in northern Sweden) and which has also been at the Guggenheim in New York.

The days are getting lighter and it feels as though spring is on the way …